Violinist Jacques Israelievitch and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico had quite the task ahead of them when deciding what compositions to include on their first collaborative CD, Fancies and Interludes.
Seated in the front room of his St. Clair Ave. and Bathurst home in early June, the two York University music professors take a break from a rehearsal to talk about their project, which was produced by David Jaeger.
The album was released June 11 at a launch party at the Canadian Music Centre.
Israelievitch compares the process to designing “an appetizing menu of pieces that will keep the interest of the audience.”
“How do you narrow it down?” he muses. “You’re at the market, and today you’re going to have fish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have chicken or beef.
“You have to make a choice. Hopefully you choose enough pieces that contrast but fit together.”
As he continues the food metaphor, Quilico flashes a sheepish grin.
“I’m a vegetarian,” she admits. “And the rest of my family are vegans.”
The two laugh about the mention of meat, but continue to take great delight in the delicate matter of the composition selection.
In the end, they chose four pieces: Oskar Morawetz’s Duo, James Rolfe’s Drop, Raymond Luedeke’s Fancies and Interludes VI and Gary Kulesha’s …and dark time flowed by her like a river…
“I don’t think you can guarantee with a contemporary program that everyone is going to like every piece, so this program has enough variety,” points out Quilico.
The Annex resident is the widow of Canadian opera singer Louis Quilico.
The CD was recorded, by Simon Head, at a 2012 concert in the Tribune Communities Recital Hall at York University.
Israelievitch and Quilico first met at a Larysa Kuzmenko concert, but connected in 2008 when he joined the York University faculty after departing his post of concertmaster with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Now, more than ever, was the need to launch the CD, as Israelievitch is battling Stage 4 lung cancer, which has metastasized to his bones.
He refrains from comment on the illness, only to agree it was an impetus to release Fancies and Interludes.
After a long pause, Quilico and Israelievitch return to the subject of music, adding last year they performed a day-long (7-1/2 hour) marathon of Mozart’s 28 sonatas written for piano and violin.
When asked about the all-day performance, in which there were only two 15-minute breaks, Israelievitch nods.
“Often people will ask, ‘Why do you do a crazy project like that?’ and I say, ‘Where would you find the opportunity to hear, in one sitting, all the works that this particular composer devoted to this combination of instruments?”
“I thought we were going to collapse, but after we went for sushi, and I was ready to go again,” Quilico adds.
Albums from that performance are in production as well.
As for future collaborative efforts, Israelievitch relinquishes a wry grin.
“Well, life will tell,” he admits. “Certainly it’s always a possibility.”